Apart from a near-instant compulsion and excuse to candy-hoard (that one never goes away), Halloween — one of my favorite times of the year — for me, has always been about getting scared. More specifically, getting my fright on from a good, spine-chiller. As this favored time approaches, I fixed myself a nice cup of hot buttered cider with rum and pieced together my list of 5 characters who scared (and continue to scare) the crap out of me.
5. The Headless Horseman (THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW)
This classic Disney animated short left an indelible mark on me when I first saw it as a 4th grader at my neighborhood library’s Halloween Fright Fest (the Three Stooges’ legendary THAT’S MY MUMMY and FRANKENSTEIN were the co-features.). I must have seen the film hundreds of times since and every time the demonic Headless Horseman makes his appearance and gives chase to hapless Ichabod Crane, I’m transported back to that library’s multipurpose room, freaked out as all get.
4. The Clown (POLTERGEIST)
Unlike some folks, I actually don’t mind clowns. I’ve never been freaked out by them as others have and I thought Chucky was funnier than frightening. But this malevolent harlequin, more a hybrid clown/ventriloquist dummy, is the exception to that rule. Arguably Spielberg’s most tension-filled scenes involve this Bozo gone bad.
3. Don Logan (SEXY BEAST)
Academy Award Winner Sir Ben Kingsley has had a bevy of far more prestigious roles. But, you’ll be hard pressed to find him thoroughly enjoying a character as much as he did in playing the viciously wrathful Cockney gangster Don Logan. Does Logan edge out Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth from BLUE VELVET for the number 3 slot? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
2. Kakihara (ICHI THE KILLER)
If Sir Ben Kingsley enjoyed his role as Don Logan, Tadanobu Asano’s portrayal of the sadistic, pain-obsessed assassin in Takashi Miike’s cult classic must have been a week at Six Flags. Fan boys/chicks and horror geeks alike are near-unanimous in their devotion for he of the hacked-face and mega high pain threshold. Just how much so? At his own premiere for HOSTEL, Miike fan (he once crashed a press junket we organized for the Japanese director so he could meet him in person) and admitted horror dork Eli Roth came fully made-up and dressed as Kakihara.
1. Asami Yamazaki (AUDITION)
The scariest character from the scariest film I’ve ever seen. Damn you, Miike-San. Damn you.
And now for your five.